Sunday, October 01, 2006

Page 163 Was A Doozy

So the U of M honors application came, and I was intrigued enough by one of the essay prompts to write this. It's 534 words, so it could lose a little weight. Any suggestions on that front, or how to make it even more ridiculous?

Prompt: Write page 162 of your autobiography.

sat down at the large ebony table and opened my menu.

I ordered the meal for the whole party, all in Swahili. I also signed it so Professor Kaufman, who was deaf, could follow along. I made a couple of mistakes when signing “braised pineapple” and “kumqat juice,” but only so kindly old Kaufman could correct me. I always felt slightly guilty for displacing him as the top Proust scholar in the country, and I think it did him good to win one from me once in a while.

We lapsed into small talk for a while afterwards, but I could sense that Dr. Stewart was itching to speak. I silenced the group with a subtle gesture and spoke to him directly.

“Now Andrew, I realize that as old friends we really don’t need a reason to get together and share a meal, but we haven’t had an event like this in years! You put this together. Why now? What’s the occasion?”

Andrew had a sheepish grin on his face. “Oh, nobody can keep you in the dark for too long, Max, what with your extraordinary observational skills and preternatural ability to read people,” he said. “I was hoping to make a grand announcement during the first toast, but I guess that cat is out of the bag now.” He cleared his throat and spoke loudly enough for the whole party to hear: “I received a call from the director of the National Endowment for the Arts yesterday, and he said he had some terrific news for the University. Apparently, the head of the Literature, Classics, and History departments (he inclined his head slightly towards me, with a proud, knowing smile) has been selected to receive a rather special endowment.”

Our somewhat oblivious waiter chose this moment to bring in our wine, but I forgave him, as I have so many others. I was so fixated on Dr. Stewart’s announcement I could barely smell, taste, analyze, and approve of the wine. The waiter began to pour and Stewart continued.

“A Congressional committee approved the extra funding, and the President threw his weight behind it, mostly due to his knowledge of your accomplishments and virtually limitless potential, and, well…Max, you’ve been awarded a $50 million dollar grant, no guidelines, no limits, no strings attached.”

I was stunned, speechless, but the applause and expectant eyes of my friends and colleagues compelled me to my feet. “I-I don’t know what to say. This is, such an honor, I don’t know where to start.”

“Why don’t you start with picking up the tab?,” quipped Dr. Lawrence, to a round of laughter.

“Well, I’ll certainly do that,” I sputtered, “but what about the rest of it? I mean, I’m still not through with my second MacArthur grant, and I haven’t even started on the third, and let’s not forget about all the book royalties. What will I do with all this extra money?”

Just then I was struck by an idea. “I know! I’ll give it to the institution to which I owe so much of my current success: The University of Minnesota!”

Dr. Stewart pulled his goblet away and spit out a cloud of expensive wine. He




At 9:49 PM, October 01, 2006, Blogger constant_k said...

For example, is there something sillier than "Proust" that I could out-scholar old Kaufman in?

At 9:54 PM, October 01, 2006, Blogger keuber said...

i think you need to incorporate the name "kubas" somewhere...ooh, i don't know, let's say that i'm...the waiter.

At 9:55 PM, October 01, 2006, Blogger constant_k said...

I'm also considering just having an ultra detailed description of about one second of me as a baby, like the moment when they hand me to my mom, so it would be like the first 162 pages had been simlilarily dense and the entire tome would be about 10,000 pages total.

At 10:03 PM, October 01, 2006, Blogger keuber said...

sounds like one exciting book.

i think i'm leaving now.


At 11:32 PM, October 01, 2006, Blogger Houley said...

no, Proust reeks of LMS. go with it.

i really wonder how that essay would be received down here...

At 8:39 AM, October 02, 2006, Blogger mayah said...

don't do the baby one - i like this. and i know how you gained your wine knowledge, little brother. i know your secrets.

At 1:44 PM, October 02, 2006, Blogger mayah said...

you should also add a header of the title of the book/chapter name or something... and make it clever. i know, shocking, right?

At 3:04 PM, October 02, 2006, Blogger Samwalkertron said...

For example, is there something sillier than "Proust" that I could out-scholar old Kaufman in?
Buckminster Fuller.

Also, Kaufman should definitely be Kaufmann.

At 3:36 PM, October 02, 2006, Blogger hobe said...

This seriously made my week. A grippy read full of intrigue and wittiness, sure to please the hungry intellectual masses.

At 4:11 PM, October 02, 2006, Blogger constant_k said...

Mmmm. Grippy.

What's a good title?
"God Bless the U of M"
"Ski Mu Ya"
"Maxwell Thomas Gorham Kuehn: A Gopher's Life"

At 6:26 PM, October 02, 2006, Blogger Houley said...

ski mu ya? you mean Ski-U-Mah?

Also, Sam, he could go either way. Kaufman had 20.9 million hits on Google, Kaufmann 20.3. Of course, the former is derived from "Kaufmann," German for "merchant," but the name has been extensively Americanized; the Kansas City Royals' stadium is called "Kauffman," named after Ewing M. Kauffman, founder of the Royals and of Marion Labs, prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist in 1970s Kansas City.

At 6:27 PM, October 02, 2006, Blogger Houley said...

you're thinking to yourself, "I really didn't need to know that, did I?"

At 6:28 PM, October 02, 2006, Blogger Houley said...

or, if you're Sam Walker, you're thinking "how can i use this information to my subversive, havoc-wrecking advantage?"

At 10:11 PM, October 02, 2006, Blogger Samwalkertron said...

I actually just meant that Kaufmann would be subtly more pretentious. I considered reccomending Kauffmann, but it seemed a bit too much.


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